This is a guest post by J. Money of Budgets are Sexy. If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing to his RSS feed.
If you can go two entire weeks without spending a penny on anything other than bills, your mortgage (or rent), and food, you will impress the pants off of me! In fact, I might even consider you my new best friend. The unfortunate truth is that not many can pull off this feat and, sadly, I remain friend-less.
Today, I challenge YOU to take me up on the offer. I know for a fact you have it in you, it’s just a matter of unleashing your inner frugal demons… It’s not going to be easy, but I can tell you from experience that you’ll look at spending a whole lot differently when this two weeks is up.
Not only will you realize how much you actually spend in a given week, but you’ll learn how to avoid putting yourself in the position to buy in the first place. If nothing else, you’ll come away with more money in your pockets and you’ll think twice before you go back to your old habits.
Believe it or not, I have tried this unimaginable idea myself. And it wasn’t only for two weeks either. Oh no, it was for 40 days straight! As in almost 6 weeks! As in I almost had to drink myself to sleep every night so I wouldn’t be tempted to leave the house! Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but you get the point.
In all honesty, I thought I was the bomb when it came to saving money. In truth, however, I wasn’t that good at being frugal with my money on a consistent basis. I wasn’t in crazy amounts of debt or anything, but if I saw a new gadget at Best Buy, I’d buy it. A new $100 jacket? I’d pick it up without much thought.
I never really understood how much I was spending until I STOPPED spending. It’s funny to read that back to myself here, but it’s so eerily true. The minute I had to scold myself for picking something up, I started seeing those dollar signs. Actually, it was more like hearing the ringing of cash registers.
The point is this… Forty days straight of nothing but paying bills and eating/drinking really taught me a few things:
- I didn’t really NEED anything. It may sound crazy, but I didn’t need those graphic tees I picked up once a week, or those random paintings of apples I swore would look great in my kitchen. They all would have been nice, but I didn’t have to have them.
- Willpower is crazy powerful! It helped that I was giving up shopping for Lent, and thus I had the big man upstairs watching over me, but the fact of the matter was that I used to suck at going anywhere and not buying something. Challenging yourself can go far, especially in personal finance.
- After you get through the first two weeks, you’re golden. I won’t sugarcoat it… The first weeks suck. You’ll forget by day three and buy a song or something on iTunes, but that’s okay. You’re bound to mess up once or twice, but if you stick with it, you’ll get used to it and won’t even think about it anymore. It’s amazing.
I promise, your whole mindset will change when you physically stop shopping. It’s like the world just slows down, and you’ve suddenly got tons of extra time. The odd part is that I can’t even recall when I’ve been to the mall since taking up this challenge. Before I did this, I’d visit at least three times a month.
Now, I watch those Benjamins build up, and I blog/read/hang out with friends when I’m bored. It’s not as exciting as blaring Kanye West from your new $500 speakers, but it sure feels like you’re Kanye West when you look at your bank statement.